Every once in a while, Hollywood seemingly feels compelled to remind viewers not only that racism is bad, but that it is on the side of righteousness. (Pay no attention to last year’s Oscars controversy.) The latest reiteration of this tenet comes in the form of Loving, a seemingly very earnest and reverential adaptation of the true-life events behind the 1967 landmark Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia. Joel Edgerton (who played an Egyptian in 2014’s Exodus: Gods and Kings) and Ruth Negga (who played a porcupine-faced Inhuman in Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.) portray Richard and Mildred Loving, the interracial couple whose marriage and subsequent legal battles ultimately led to a nationwide change in marriage laws.
While the film may be petitioning a bit too adamantly for award-season affection, it does have a number of things going for it. First and foremost is writer/director Jeff Nichols, a singular filmmaker who has made a career of contemplative musings on the rural mindset with films like Mud, Take Shelter, and Shotgun Stories. The A.V. Club’s Mike D’Angelo, though underwhelmed with the film as a whole when he saw it at Cannes, took note of how its direction helped it transcend the conventions of its genre, writing that, “Nichols’ arthouse instincts sidestep the generic uplift that somebody like Ron Howard might have brought to this material, and he gets fine performances from his two leads.” The impressive cast also includes Michael Shannon (all Nichols films) and comedian Nick Kroll (Kroll Show), performing without a weird voice or wig.
Loving will arrive in theaters on November 4.